With player after W&M player having announced that he’s entered the transfer portal (to test the waters), it’s more apparent than ever that W&M needs to hire its next Head Coach as soon as possible. The fact that the Tribe has yet to do so could be for a few reasons:
- Their guy is currently an assistant coach for one of the Sweet 16 teams still playing in the NCAA Tournament.
- W&M had a candidate in mind, but the opportunity fell through for one reason or another.
- Given the recent news about Nate Evans passing, the administration is waiting to make their announcement after sufficient time has passed.
Although any of the above certainly serves as a distinct possibility, we wanted to better explore #1 — the possibility that W&M is holding out for an assistant coach target who is currently coaching in the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16. In our recent article, we profiled 2 assistant coaches who are potential Head Coach targets for the Green and Gold (Nate James, Duke & Rob Lanier, Tennessee); both of these coaches are currently still participating in the NCAA Tournament.
But that got us thinking…if W&M were targeting an assistant — is there one in the NCAA Tournament that makes a lot of sense for the Tribe? The answer was a resounding yes; after doing a bit of digging, we came across current UVA Associate Head Coach, Jason Williford.
If W&M AD Samantha Huge‘s biggest critique of Tony Shaver was that Shaver never brought W&M to the NCAA Tournament, then Williford would certainly fit the bill as someone who has hardly known life without March Madness each season.
A segment of his UVA bio is posted below:
“Jason Williford is in his 10th year with the University of Virginia men’s basketball program. He served as an assistant men’s basketball coach for his first nine seasons before being promoted to associate head coach after the 2017-18 season. Williford is his 18th year as a men’s assistant basketball coach at the collegiate level.
Willford has helped the Cavaliers capture three ACC regular-season championships, two ACC Tournament titles and six NCAA Tournament appearances in his nine seasons. UVA has won 30 or more games in three of the past five seasons and reached No. 1 in the AP rankings this season for the first time since 1982.
A former Virginia player, Williford was an assistant coach at American University for four years before coming to UVa and prior to that was an assistant coach at Boston University for five years. American won the Patriot League Championship and participated in the NCAA Tournament in each of his last two seasons with the program. During Williford’s final four years at Boston University, the Terriers earned an NCAA Tournament berth in 2002 and then participated in the National Invitation Tournament for three consecutive years.
A native of Richmond, Va., Williford is a 1995 graduate of Virginia. During his four years as a member of the UVa men’s basketball team, the Cavaliers won the NIT in 1992 and participated in the NCAA Tournament three times. Virginia reached the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 in 1993, the second round in 1994 and the Elite Eight in 1995 when he was a team captain.”
By our math, Williford experienced the NCAA Tournament 3 times as a player at UVA (including one as a captain of a team that made the Elite 8), twice while an assistant with American University, and six times while serving as an assistant coach at UVA. Courtesy of our incredible skills in mathematics, that comes out to 11 NCAA Tournament experiences over his lifetime.
Obviously, Williford has strong Virginia connections, recruiting pipelines, and roots; checking in around 46 years old, he might be the perfect fit for a W&M team looking for someone who could be interested in staying for the long-term.
A quote from the Richmond Times-Dispatch painted the picture:
“[Six] years ago, Williford found himself a finalist for the head basketball job at American, an opportunity he pained over pursuing. Williford didn’t end up getting the gig…
Williford, 45, said he’s passed on some schools that expressed interest in him, not feeling they were the right fit. U.Va., at least for now, is that fit for him.”
If there ever were a school that could lure him from his alma mater and seriously connect with him, it could just be fellow Virginia state school, William & Mary.
Time will surely tell where the Tribe is heading, but one thing is for certain: a decision must be made — and it must be made sooner rather than later. Williford would certainly be a good fit, but all options are likely still on the table now.
LET’S GO TRIBE.